December 31, 2010

Happy New Year! Postcards from Canada

The official part.

Happy New Year! Have a wonderful 2011!

The unofficial part.

December 30, 2010

Stephen - Young and Talented

Stephen's photo

I was so impressed when I accidentally found this young and talented photographer in the shining, vast, and cold expanse of the cyberspace. His photographs present fragmented information about Stephen's world and his relationship with the world of photography. His camera is a tool of individual expression of everyday live 15 years old boy. I believe that with his talent Stephen will be a stunning photographer of any subject. I just wanted to bring his blog to your attention.

I hope he keeps up his work!

December 28, 2010

December 22, 2010

Happy Holidays!

This post is dedicated to the people who are celebrating Christmas by themselves without choosing to. Or to those who are feeling down this season. Or perhaps to those who haven't completed their resolutions. Or maybe there's something who is so tired that they have no energy left to act cheerful. I'm not going to say anything particularly special for the occasion. I just want to give you a couple of videos; some beautiful, some stupid. I hope you find something you like.
Happy Holidays!

Today's Photos and Write Impressions

If I need to buy something beautiful, I go to Write Impressions.
(2215 Bloor Street West)

December 20, 2010

St. Lawrence Market Brocante

If you're looking for a unique present, particularly for someone who enjoys collecting things like watches or old toys, you should visit the St. Lawrence Market.

I really enjoy exploring flea markets. I think there is something special about them in each country. You can also meet all these different types of people - collectors, tourists, or someone who just stopped by out of curiosity. The most interesting people at the flea market are the vendors. To my surprise, this time at the St. Lawrence Market, there were many young vendors.

For My Virtual Friend

Dear  Happy frog and I
Thank you!

December 18, 2010

The wallet and Karl

  This photo has nothing to do with the post. Its purpose it simply to draw your attention. (I guess it also has another Karl in it. I took it in 2007 on the Red Square in Moscow)

Yesterday, my husband found a wallet in the garage of our apartment building. He went down to get a pack of water bottles from the car, and he stumbled upon that object. He opened it, and found that it contained a driver's license. Finding the owner was pretty easy after that. He lives in our building. My husband told this story so calmly that you might think he finds wallets like that every day. Meanwhile, I was jumping up and down, asking these question 1) "Why didn't you take me with you to give back the wallet? I would have loved to see the expression on the people's faces." 2) "What else was in the wallet? Maybe a treasure map?" 3) "What did they say? Did they already know they lost it?"

It turned out that he didn't care what else was in the wallet. He knocked on the door of its owner for a while before anybody answered. My husband asked the man who opened the door "Is it yours?", and he said that it was. Then his wife appeared behind him, quietly saying "Oh my God..."

"So, if anybody comes up to us later to say something, it might be them," my husband said to me. Then he added "Do you remember Karl?"

This is the story of Karl:

Two years ago, we were riding in the elevator, when we saw a poster about a lost cat named Karl.
It was summertime. Three weeks passed since we saw the poster, and we were on a walk. We were a little way away from the building when we saw a cat in the evening dusk. I remembered Karl, and I had this hunch. I called him by his name. The cat stopped, and looked at me. We decided to try picking him up and bringing him back to our building, but he wouldn't let us touch him. So, my husband stayed to guard the cat while I went to get the owners.
I knocked on their door for the longest time, but, even though I clearly heard some footsteps in the room, nobody opened it. A guy came out of the door nearby; I explained the situation, and we started knocking together. In a little while, we agreed that I will go and help guarding the cat while he continues knocking.

A while passed, Karl's very sleepy owner came out, and together, we started the hunt. I'm pretty sure Karl remembered who she was. He would approach her, and then get back, but he wouldn't let her pick him up. It seemed like he'd had a hard time for a while. His owner saw that and started crying about the state he was in.

Some people passed by - some of them stopped to help us, while other looked at us like we were crazy. I remember one girl even tied her dog's leash to a tree, and started crawling around in the bushes with us, after Karl. More and more people joined in. We were worried that he would climb up on the tree, and we would have to call the fire department. Eventually, we made a sort of chain together, and trapped him by a flowerbed. The owner took off her shoes and pretty much jumped on the cat, finally capturing him.

I saw her a couple of weeks later, and she took quite a long time thanking me.

December 16, 2010

Today's shopping and a question.

The question is. How did you survive Christmas shopping? Shopping for me is a very stressful procedure. Maybe because I usually don't have any time for shopping. I admit I also procrastinate, because I don't look forward to it. I go shopping when everything around me is about to burst to flames. (For example, this time, I needed an outfit for the reception for my solo exhibition in January. I knew about the exhibition in the beginning of the summer, but I left it so long). The thought of having to choose and try things on is terrifying, because the process can be so exhausting. It's very interesting - are there really people who enjoy shopping? It's nice to come home with new things, but the process of finding them is so frustrating.

December 14, 2010

Today's photos and a question

Sometimes I need clarifications regarding the most obvious things. For example, what are your favourite movies to watch for the hundredth time on Christmas? What movies do you only watch on the holidays, regardless of the circumstances? Do you have any movies without which Christmas just isn't the same? Something without which it loses a small and simple yet sacred element, like the beautifully decorated tree, the smell of freshly cooked treats, or the morning spent opening gifts. I'm sure there are some movies that you can only watch on that day. If you can think of any, feel free to share.

December 13, 2010

Sound of Music

I found a post in A Woman Of No Importance blog that features a nice flash mob. Here is another one which I like.

December 10, 2010

A risky post

Recently, I’ve had some interesting luck with older ladies. (I have to say that, in my experience, it is usually safe to call someone slightly over 80 an older lady.)

The first scenario happened at the drug store, where I was buying some cough syrup. I saw a lady near one of the shelves, struggling to reach something at the very top. She even jumped up a little, all to no avail, because she was very small. I turned to give her some help. It turned out that she needed some Attends. I had to put up a lot of effort as well, because they were shoved really deeply into the shelf. Having finally retrieved them, I just thought I’d hear something like “Oh, thank you.” Instead, what I heard was, “One day, you’re going to be needing some of those.”

At first, I got a little upset, then I was really irritated, but I couldn’t find anything to say in response, and so I went about my business. It was only after I left the store that I started laughing so much that I frightened one man and two pigeons.

The other scenario took place where I was walking with an acquaintance of mine to the bus stop. She noticed that her bus was leaving, and so she took off after it. This was done despite the fact that no one ever tried to catch a departing bus in Canada, and she was born here. At that moment, one of her shoelaces came undone, and she stepped on it, and sprained her ankle. Her first phrase after that incident was “I suppose there won’t be any dance lessons for me for a while.”

The third scenario happened at a Polish deli. I was standing in line next to a pleasant lady in a lovely hat. When we reached the cashier, she slowed down a bit. I just figured she must have remembered something important. Then I saw the expression on the face of the young cashier, and I realized that something was up. Then I noticed that she was dozing off. The winter sunlight was coming through the window, making us all more relaxed. 

I wonder what I’ll be like fourty years from now. I really hope I’ll be cute. Of that I can never be sure. But I do know for a fact that I will thank everyone who helps me out at the store when I start needing some Attends.

December 8, 2010

Abstract winter ideas

Here are some photos from previous years and some from this year. With an emphasis on minimalism.

These are the questions that I ask myself when taking a photograph.
What form do the objects take?
What composition should I choose?
Did I push my creative limits?
What is the impact of the light on the subject?
What colors  need to be represented?
What kind of textural structure do I want to emphasize?
If the camera sees everything, what is really necessary in each photo?
If my task is to make order out of a variety of objects, how would I prefer to do it?

December 6, 2010

December can be a surreal month

Whenever it is December in Canada – a lovely season of holidays, presents, and unexpected visits – I remember one episode that took place nine years ago around this time. I was riding in a car down our street. I was wearing warm boots, jeans, a sweater, and a winter jacket. The sun was setting, and large flakes of snow were descending from the sky. It seemed like in one moment, everything turned white. From the window, I saw two people walking down the street. The first one was a tall and thin man, draped in a white cloth. He also had a white turban, and on his feet, there were some flip-flops and beads. The second person was a woman; she was a little shorter than the man, but still taller than average. Her outfit was also made out of thin white fabric, which was wrapped around her body. She had an elaborate hairstyle, and she wore shoes with little bells. Both of those people had the kind of perfect posture than you only see in ballet. (The kind that you also will never see on anybody who spends a lot of time in front of the computer.) Their heads were raised high, and they moved with so much grace that it seemed like it was nothing for them to walk around a snowy street in shoes I’d only wear in the summer. It’s as if the snow was actually sand. To me, the people really looked like they emerged out of the spirit world.

This image made such an impression on me, leaving me entranced for a while. I still like to imagine the sound of bells ringing down a snow-white street.

December 2, 2010

That was close

Yesterday, something awful almost happened. I was working in the studio when my husband called. He needed to ask me something right away. I had a plastic container of acrylic paint and a paintbrush in my hands. Absent-mindedly, I stuck the brush into the paint, and put it on a nearby table. Out cat – a nosy animal – immediately jumped onto the table. My intuition made me turn around at that moment, and I saw that the paint container was just about tipping onto the cat. I screamed so loudly that, instead of getting splattered with paint, ran away, and hid under the bed in the other room for the next hour. I told my husband about what happened, who was still on the other line, hearing the sounds, but not knowing what was going on. He reasoned that our cat had almost turned into an art installation. I told him (as my mind painted the picture of a clean shaven cat, since acrylic paint doesn’t come out of anything) that first, there would have been something more like performance art.

This is why I can’t see myself getting a dog. I can’t guarantee being able to prevent the occurrence accidents and victims. Once, a friend of mine came over with a wonderful Labrador Retriever. We popped into the kitchen for just a moment. When we returned, the dog was licking the canvas, which was covered with a mixture of glue and chalk. If cats are hard enough to manage, then dogs just aren't meant for an artist's studio.

December 1, 2010

A vacation afterword

 Thanks to everyone who could stand my photo marathon. Our vacation had a particular mood. The moment I saw that place, I wanted to capture every part of it, and share it with you. Keeping a blog gives you so much motivation to use the camera more often. Once again, thank you all who commended. Because of you, I know I didn’t waste my time, and I had so much fun. I hope you did too.

In order to stay grounded in reality, and give you a more balanced perspective, I’ll tell you that I saw a small cockroach in the hotel bathroom. We didn’t end up as friends. I only made friends with other humans in the hotel. (Perhaps, if one of them isn’t too shy and sends me a photo, you might see a real Russian hunter in this blog one day. Also, I’m going to have to be careful with my language, because I now have one reader under 12.( Alina, say hi to your parents!)
If anybody has a business offer for me, to promote a hotel or a restaurant, you know where to find me. Right here, in my blog. Keep in mind, I only travel with four assistants – 1) My husband (computer specialist and moral support) 2) My daughter (editor and moral support) 3) Daughter’s boyfriend (musical and moral support) and 4) Cat (just moral support. I’ll cover the costs of the vaccinations).

The only things left on my to-do list are writing two long letters to my parents and my husband’s parents. There are still people in this world who appreciate a real, handwritten letter.

Also, Christmas is coming! And pretty soon my art exhibitions will start again.

November 29, 2010

The Market Time

I understand that my recollections of my tropical vacation are getting about as long as the Forsyte Saga. Although I hope they are a bit more cheerful, and they certainly have a happier ending.

Market time!

November 27, 2010

Encounters with people

I spent a lot of time just enjoying the nature, but I also really enjoyed meeting different people.
I especially liked this method of communication that was practiced by many others, not just me. It’s when somebody asks you something in a language that you don’t know (like Italian, for example), and you respond in a language they don’t know (like English). And yet somehow everyone understands each other.
It was a memorable moment when I noticed an interaction between a very tipsy Russian and a very tipsy American (such a cliche). It was so entertaining, especially since their conversation was about music.

November 26, 2010

The Sky, the Ocean, the Clouds

The weather changed every half an hour throughout our vacation. Despite the fact that the beach is surrounded by a coral reef, and there are almost no waves, the wind would blow nonstop.
When the wind blew lightly, coconuts would drop from the palm trees.

November 25, 2010

Around the Hotel

When we had arrived, the hotel staff were busy getting ready for Christmas. One evening, they turned all the lights on, and we walked among the palms, which were taking the place of Christmas trees. The feeling was absolutely enchanting.

The Room with a View

We have traveled to the Dominican Republic for the first time

I have to say that blogging changes a person’s attitude towards everything that happens. Personally, I stopped being lazy, and started taking picture of everything around me with twice as much energy as before. This is because I am grateful to everyone who gives me the opportunity to see and feel what it’s like to live in the different countries and cities they are from. I also wanted to share the beauty that I had the chance to see.

November 23, 2010

I am back from the vacation. Oof !

I am back from the Dominican Republic. It is amazing how, before vacation, you feel old, fat and dull. And after a week under the tropical sun, you start to feel new as a baby. The age doesn't disappear, but some wrinkles are gone. The fat is still here. Who could refuse to eat all the delicious seafood, tempting deserts and drink champagne all day long? But after constant swimming and walking the body doesn't look saggy anymore. All the intense colors, lots of sun and rain, sunsets, sunrises, and walking with my husband under the moon....

In short I took more than 2000 photos and I will select and show the best ones really soon.

November 13, 2010

The Fall and The Fog in High Park

Yesterday, a fog had descended on the city of Toronto. I'd asked my husband to wake me up early in the morning, and accompany me on a photography expedition.

This morning, he woke me up. I was grumpy, but somehow, I got up. We went to High Park, and since we were very sleepy, we forgot our cell phones at home.

I'm not really a photographer - I'm just a person who bought a camera, and is trying to learn how to capture certain moments. I've never been captured by photographic vanity.

Here are the results of the photo session.

November 12, 2010

Day # 2 - Toronto Public Library

I grew up in a country where, until a certain time known as Perestroika, you couldn’t just go into a store a buy any book you wanted. And since my family was not part of the elite communist bureaucratic apparatus, we had to find sneaky ways to make books materialize in our house.

For example, you could collect 50 kilograms of old newspapers, and bring them to a special place, where you could exchange them for a coupon for ONE book. They would also give you directions to a store where a potential book could appear. You had to call the store, and ask whether the book had arrived. And if it had, then your task was to get up early, before the store opened, and to stand in line with other lucky recipients of coupons.

There were other methods, too. A friend of mine was in a relationship with the manager of a bookstore, where he had a part-time job as a mover. He had a regular supply of new books, which he let me borrow. When his romantic feelings fizzled out and he found another girlfriend, he still dated the store manager for some time, because of the books. Meanwhile, we, the second-year students of the Faculty of History, whom he lent out the books, encouraged his amoral behaviour. Pretty soon he was found out, though, and the supply of books ceased.

The libraries in the Soviet Union were in a pretty sad state, too.

After the experiences of my youth, my relationship with books became something not quite healthy. Most people might borrow one book a week from the library, if any – meanwhile, I borrow at least five. One about art – a book about some painter. Another about art theory. A third one about art instruction. A fourth one about cooking. And a fifth one is usually a French textbook. There might be a sixth book, usually about sociology.

These days, after ten years of life in Canada, I have actually calmed down a little.

For me, the local library is like a second home. Plus, it is such a joy, and such an achievement of civilization to be able to use the library catalogue from the comfort of your home. For a book maniac like myself, this is one of the advantages of life in Canada.

November 11, 2010

Remembrance Day

Today in Canada is Remembrance Day.
We remember.

November 10, 2010

Thoughts about Vacation

How can you tell that it’s time to go on vacation? First of all, despite the fact that I’ll be having a group show in December and a solo exhibition in January, I just can’t concentrate on my work. (I hope that Fey and Whitney won’t see this post. Especially since I’m almost ready for the show.)
Meanwhile, totally unserious music and absolutely rascally thoughts keep rushing through my mind.
My husband, judging by the way he wore his socks inside-out to work, is also tired.

Now that I see that a vacation is inevitable, I go here.

November 8, 2010

This is how I’ve broken off my eight-year relationship with Starbucks

I have to say that I can’t imagine life without coffee. The smell of freshly ground coffee drives me crazy. I’d sell my own mother, my country, and my cat for a cup of coffee (hypothetically speaking).
Before I’d moved to Canada, the best coffee I had ever tasted was in Turkey (surprise, surprise) and in France (obviously). I’d made my acquaintance during the first few days in Toronto, when I was feeling disoriented and out of touch with reality (a nine-hour flight, culture shock...). Caffe latte brought me back to life. In my vulnerable state, I had decided that I can totally live with a chain café like that.

From time to time, depending on the location and the professionalism of the barista, I found myself either loving my latte more, or feeling disappointed in it. Sometimes I thought that we need to add more milk into our relationship, sometimes the embrace of the coffee wasn’t strong enough, sometimes there wasn’t enough spice.
Eight years is not the shortest period for a relationship based on love and dependence.

All of a sudden I felt that I no longer love Starbucks coffee, and it’s only a sweetened and watered-down drink, which has nothing whatsoever to do with real coffee. It’s a total surrogacy of feelings.

I started researching anything related to Starbucks. I’ve read the book Taylor Clark Starbucked.The most horrifying moment for me was the chapter with the greedy shareholder who was asking “When are we going to open more Starbucks locations?” during a meeting. I had so many questions in regards to Starbucks’s politics, concerning the countries that produce their coffee.

I visited their website. I tried to figure out what I was wrong about.
Since I grew up in a communist society, I came to see anything big as being right, and myself as being wrong.

The simple truth consists in the fact that a portion of the money, which I make in Canada, does not stay in my community, and instead ends up in the hands of American shareholders. Having been hooked on Starbucks’s marketing strategy (a pleasant atmosphere, an easy access to caffeine), I voluntarily give up my money to a corporation that only wants to fill the world with an imitation of coffee; I do that instead of sponsoring small local cafés.
It seems that Starbucks isn’t having much trouble reaching its goal. I never thought I would find Starbucks in Paris.

Yes, you can comfortably sit down with your laptop at Starbucks, and spend countless hours with just one cup of coffee. Yes, Starbucks can be a point between work and home. This is all very well thought-out, by smart people. Smart people who are able to acquire large masses of clients.

Finally, I feel free. For the past year and a half, I’ve been busy experimenting. I haven’t yet found a replacement for Starbucks as a meeting place for friends, but I’m always trying something new. I also brew my own wonderful coffee at home.

If you have any suggestions about mom and dad coffee shops in Toronto, feel free to share them.

November 4, 2010

Day #1 - The Fall in High Park

Maybe this sort of thing is not important to some people, but I prefer to live in a country that has four seasons. It’s quite possible that in the distant future, when my weary bones start demanding constant sunshine and warmth, I’ll be drawn to the sunny California. Until that time comes, I am going to enjoy all the wonders of the Canadian fall.

There’s nothing quite so exciting for an artist as the incredible feast of colours in my favourite High Park. If you visit it two days in a row, things will look pretty different each time.
Yesterday, it was golden, with a few remaining bits of green. Today, everything is turning into shades of red, purple, and orange. In a little while, we’ll be able to see a multitude of elegant dark branches. After an intense nightly wind and rainfall, the image of the leaves that have survived it can inspire a haiku.
           Traceless, no more need to hide.         
           Now the old mirror
           Reflects everything - autumn light
           Moistened by faint mist.
                                    Suian / tr.Lucien Stryk

I’ve already taken out the cozy cover, which I got last Christmas. I also bought a new red cup with white dots, to drink warm tea.
You can smell the aroma of apples and pumpkin pie. Somebody has lit up the fireplace. Somewhere, the old leaves and twigs are burning. All these scents intertwine in the cool air, creating the delicate tone of the fall mood.

November 3, 2010

The New Project

A couple of weeks ago, my husband was riding in the elevator with a few people from our apartment building. Since the majority of the people living here are fairly mentally stable, they tend to say hello in the elevator, and initiate some small talk.

That time, all the people present were around the same critical age of 40+, except for one slightly older lady with a playful grayish curly hairstyle. The conversation revolved around the things everybody did on the weekend. They all agreed that there are always many things to see and to do in the city when you have some free time. Only the only lady didn’t say anything. Then, suddenly, after a moment of silence, she uttered “There is nothing in Canada worth doing and seeing.”

Silence resumed, except now it became more than a little awkward. After my husband told me about this incident, I had to seriously think about it. What made the lady say that? Is it a matter of generational difference, or are there really people that take so many things for granted. 

Well, I very much disagree with that lady. And she inspired me to begin an ambitious blogging project. I call it “365 things I like about Canada”.
My first subject is going to be the Canadian fall.

November 2, 2010

The 11th Toronto International Art Fair

Art Fair recently took place in Toronto. The fair was very interesting, and quite ambitious. There were only a few big names, but the variety and the quality of modern art really exceeded my expectations. I’d say that in all nine years that I’ve been attending this event, this time it succeeded the most in representing the concept “international fair”. 

The fair catalogue is wonderfully made – it’s lovely to open, to look through, and even to smell. It smells very pleasantly of ink. 

I was happy to see some works by a few of my favourite artists - Wolf Kahn,David Andrew,Nancy Delouis. I could stand and look at them for hours, but the market is not like an exhibition. It seems that I attracted quite a bit of attention from the personnel by being so enthusiastic about certain artwork. They swarmed me like bees and buzzed around me for a while. I kept it at pleasant conversation, without pretending to be a buyer. So, they didn’t really get any honey from me.

The overall impression, which tends to last for a while, is that of well-spent time in intellectually stimulating company. This fair is an example of how it is possible to appeal to very different and sophisticated tastes, without resorting to the desire to shock or surprise.

October 28, 2010

Top Girls

Could somebody please explain to me why there are so many exceptionally gorgeous female opera singers performing these days? They’re not just young and talented; they maintain a beautiful appearance, and they even have slim waistlines. The waistline issue is particularly puzzling. Back in the day, opera divas would be snacking on pastries backstage, telling the tenors and ballet dancers that the voice has to be supported by something. What excuse would Montserrat Caballe come up with today?

My three favourite contemporary opera singers - Elina Garanka, Anna Netrebko and Cecilia Bartoli - are so beautiful that, when talents were being given out, it wouldn’t have been unfair for them to get something simple. Like cross-stitching. But no – they have the voice, the talent, and beauty to add to that. Fine, the rest of us are just mere mortals. 

In consolation, I’d like to tell a story that happened several years ago, before the Bolshoi Theatre was closed for renovation.
The building became very old, and it was rather seriously infested with mice. In order to keep the mouse population under control, the theatre acquired a few cats. The cats made themselves quite comfortable, and began living under the stage. One fine moment, when one of the prima donnas was hitting a high note, the cats couldn’t stand it, and began to sing along from underneath the stage. The audience laughed so hard that the performance had to be cancelled.

October 24, 2010

French Toast

I think that the popularity of the blogosphere stems from one basic human trait - curiosity. It's not really about the desire to communicate with others. It is well known that only a small fraction of users leave comments, compared to how many readers the post actually gets. People read blogs because they are curious. And I am no exception.

Another way to satisfy your curiosity is reading other people's memoirs. I don't just pick anything - I like to read about the experiences of the people who have had to deal with culture shock after moving to another country. I particularly love reading about people who have moved to France. I avoid reading books by Peter Mayle, even though he pretty much started the whole movement of writing about "how it really happens", of taking a bite out of life in that country.

Instead, I have read books by just about all the reckless Americans, Canadians, and Brits with the tiniest grain of literary talent who can be found at Chapters or in the library.

Here's a brief overview of one of them - French Toast by Harriet Welty Rochefort. After reading this book, I have come to the conclusion that Russian people are practically French, judging by how many national traits they have in common. For one thing, they're very similar in their behaviour on the road, their lack of desire to smile spontaneously, in their attitude towards professional clients, and in their attitude towards education. The phrase "It does seem like everyone's always fighting over something" brought back so many memories and a fit of uncontrollable laughter.

Another aspect that was so familiar to me was the absurd degree of bureaucracy and all the unwritten rules about how to act during dinner when you have guests over. And then there's also the love of discussion that end up going nowhere. And the gender relations.

Overall, I have really enjoyed it, and I would recommend this wonderful and hilarious book to anyone.

October 22, 2010


I would like to tell you about one excellent and subtle photographer - Kamelia.

The two main areas of her interest are people and still life. She work with a black and white technique in her photography. This technique is the conscious choice of a professional, whose aim it is to reveal the character of the person or object through the heightening of emotion. The colours are left out because sometimes they might impose a suggestion of what we ought to feel. We don't need any clues, because it's more fun to solve the mystery ourselves.

The information about the people in Kamelia's portraits consists of a few details. This leads us to continue asking questions. Who are they, these people? Why did the shot capture them this way? What are their secrets, and what can they communicate about themselves?

Meanwhile, Kamelia's photos of plants might make you wonder about their backstory. How did they enter the photographer's life? Why are they so subdued and unobtrusive?

What draws me to Kamelia's work is the rhythm of her compositions. The horizontal and diagonal lines in the background drift away into the space beyond the picture. Maybe they're traveling to the same place from which the main subject of the photo had appeared.

I haven't yet figured out what exactly makes Kamelia's characters so intriguing. I think I will ask her when we see each other.

Kamelia  is now taking part in the following group exhibition:
El Almacen, 1078 Queen St. West, Toronto

October 19, 2010

After BST

It’s just my luck that I had to get sick right at the time when all the artists who have finished the Beach Studio Tour are relaxing and drinking champagne. I’ve already been sick a short while before the tour, and now, once again, I am coughing, and speaking in a voice that would make me not afraid to walk around the most dangerous neighbourhoods at night. Now, in response to the classic question of “Your money or your life?”, I can just say “What?”, and they will run away screaming.

According to the laws of the creative process, every project should end with catharsis or liberation. Maybe these laws don’t apply to me, or maybe they just haven’t discovered all of them yet. At the time of the tour, I felt wonderful, and I only used two tissues for the entire time. And now I’m sitting with herbal tea, sick once again.

This once again confirms my old idea. It may be interesting to study other primates, but the least understood creature on the planet is the human. And the most incomprehensible subspecies is the artist.

October 11, 2010

Beach Studio Tour - Fall 2010

For yet another time, I have the pleasure of participating in the Beach Studio Tour.
This tour has earned a significant place in the life of the Beaches community. It unites the artists that live in that area, along with some guest artists from other parts of Toronto. The Beach Studio tour is organized twice a year, and it’s always been a lively and popular event. I am lucky to be able to return with my works to the Beach Studio Tour this year.
This time, I am going to unveil my newest project – polymer clay sculptures. Since this is a new direction for me, you will be able to see all the works that I have created in this medium so far.

In my Birds of Paradise series, there are seven birds of varying shape and design.
My Opposites Attract series features six colourful dogs, inspired by Art Deco.
I’ve also sculpted three tiny experimental models of cheery, chubby cats, whom I prefer to imagine singing “What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailor?”

And finally, I am going to present my one-of-a-kind collectible doll entitled “The Horn Player”.

The Beach Studio Tour is taking place on
  • Friday October 15th, 6 pm - 9 pm
  • Saturday October 16th, 10 am - 6 pm
  • Sunday October 17th, 11 am - 6 pm
You will be able to find me at 51 Brookmount Road. Rachel Taggart has generously invited me to exhibit my work at this location with her. All the Beach Studio Tour artists (including myself, of course) would love to chat with their audience, and answer any questions. Hope to see you there!

October 3, 2010

Nuit Blanche in Toronto

Yesterday night was Toronto’s Nuit Blanche. The event that brings so much excitement to art lovers of all degrees. We spent it at the ARTA Gallery in the Distillery District. Unlike some other galleries, where people only seemed to stick around for a minute or two, the exhibition at ARTA came across as extremely well thought out and planned just for this sort of event. Its lineup of international artists presented many diverse movements in modern art. The idea that united the main part of the exhibition was violence in the modern world. Many visitors stayed to chat with the artists and share their impressions. I think that this serves as a motivating factor for art collectors and art lovers to wander out of their dwellings at such odd hours – they like to feel that they are eagerly awaited at the galleries. It seemed that they didn’t regret coming out to enjoy the art, instead of lazing around their homes with a bowl of popcorn on their stomachs, watching Hot Fuzz for the hundredth time.

The ARTA Gallery completed its educational mission; it also played the role of the place of intellectual pilgrimage during Nuit Blanche.

October 2, 2010

Books About Art Business

Having spent several years on the frontlines ... I mean, after several years of making a living with art ... no, wait ... having spent several years in communication with gallery owners and not having cried once, I can safely say that you will not find anything new in these books. And yet they are quite interesting to read.

In Molly Barnes's "How to Get Hung" there is a sense of intrigue, a bit of non-malicious gossip, and some sound advice from a former gallery owner. There is almost no snobby attitude. It is written in a language that people can be expected to actually speak, not in the language of pretentious art critics. The author is the girl next door who, due to a lack of parental supervision, became an art dealer instead of an orthodontist.

In Daniel Grant's "Selling Art without Galleries" there is a lot of practical information for beginners. I particularly liked the artists’ feedback. It is not always polished or edited, so, you come across a few unexpected, enlightening details from time to time.

I also liked his discussion of the ridiculous amount of skills (many which have nothing directly to do with art) that an artist must have.

While I was reading both of these books, I often found myself thinking “Yes, yes! That’s absolutely right!”

Hence, even though I didn’t learn anything I haven’t already experienced firsthand, I really enjoyed the reading.

September 29, 2010


Sometimes, it turns out that several very important things may take place in a short period. This happened to my friend, who broke up with her husband, found a new job, bought a new apartment, and started collecting art in the amount of time that has got to be some kind of a record. Some people might need a couple of years to go through all that, but my friend did it in three months. She is very dynamic, and has a love of life.

I would like to tell you how she bought a sculpture of a Dutch sculptor. I got a phone call one time, and the voice on the other end of the line said “What do you think is more important – a mattress and a bed, or a sculpture? I can only really afford one of the two.”

When it comes to art, I don’t give very good advice. The only thing I could come up with is asking the owner of the gallery for a discount. This was taking place during the annual exhibition at the Convention Centre, and there was only a bit of time before it would end. The atmosphere was tense. My friend left work early that day, and ran off to purchase art.

I got another phone call, and, this time, the voice said “I didn’t buy anything”.

It turned out that my friend had been treated very rudely. Rudely and indecently. I don’t even want to describe what they’d said to their potential client.

This incident made such a negative impression on me, but it didn’t curb my friend’s enthusiasm for beautiful things. You should see her eyes when she’s buying art. So much passion! The genie has been let out of the bottle. If this genie had unlimited financed, modern artists wouldn’t be able to remain starving. And Toronto would probably boast one more modern art gallery.

September 27, 2010

Capturing the elusive spirit

Since I believe there is always room for improvement in your craft, I like to consult some knowledgeable people before I begin a new project. By this I mean that I take an immense amount of reading material out from the library.
I did this before I started a blog, and I did this before I tried taking photos of three-dimensional object (namely, my sculptures). While blogging depends mainly on your ability to describe things that interest you in a colourful way, taking photos requires a real sacrifice. It’s not even about having a big, fancy camera, or the ability to make good use of Photoshop. It’s about the object you’re photographing, and it’s about practicing.

It feels to me like the objects resist being photographed. They don’t exactly move, or make silly faces. It’s something more subtle. For example, I finished the photoshoot with my dog sculpture pretty quickly, and I am very satisfied with it, but the birds just wouldn’t come out right. The magic isn’t there. From the photos, you can’t really see that the birds are a little bit like totem animals. You can’t see that they are cheerful. You can’t see anything essential, despite the amount of effort it took me, hanging over them from various angles. It didn’t matter how much I’ve experimented with the lighting. The birds just look so ordinary on the photos. Or maybe that’s just the way I see it.

September 25, 2010

A Sculpture Reader

Everyone’s talking about the crisis in modern visual arts, but I believe that their fears are greatly exaggerated. Sure, many artists seem to exploit old ideas. Sure, many artists have gotten caught up in developing their art form for its own sake. However, each artist is part of a society that’s been influenced by so many people that have been part of it. Naturally, the art that is produced in a particular society will have at least some components that have been borrowed from the previous generations.

Oddly enough, right now I find the most interesting ideas in sculpture. Take, for example, Regina Frank. It’s difficult to call her work “sculpture” in its purest sense. There are also elements of installation and performance. As far as composition, her art can be compared to classic Greek sculpture. You can see it in the graceful lines and the elegant gestures. Also, there is Magdalena Jetelova. Her works are saturated with drama and conflict. At the same time, they are succinct, containing paradoxical philosophical ideas.
There is a type of sculpture that I don’t get at all. It has several distinct characteristics. One common feature is a heap of misshapen objects, whose collective form is reminiscent of an enlarged pile of dog poop. Another one involves carelessly scrambled human and/or animal body parts – this is probably supposed to make you think of the inevitable things in life, or something. Also, often featured in this type of sculpture are metallic pieces, which are slightly rusted, as if they’ve been exposed to the weather.
To end on a positive note – I also love Christo and Jeanne-Claude!